Following on from the Blogger Recognition Award I posted yesterday, I’ve also been nominated to do the Disability Misconceptions Tag by Holly (Life Of A Blind Girl), a tag that was originally created by Nicola (View From A Walking Frame).
The topic of disability misconceptions comes up regularly, so it’s always an interesting one to talk about. So I nominate anyone who wants to join in with it, as I know many great disabled writers and Youtubers in amongst the many blogs I follow. Thank you to Holly for nominating me, and I hope you like my answers to the questions!
1. What is your disability and how does it impact on you?
I have aniridia, which means I don’t have a fully formed iris in my eye. This prevents the pupil from adjusting to changes in light, making me overly sensitive to bright sunlight and glare, and I find it more difficult to see in the dark. I also have nystagmus, which means my eyes move and shake involuntarily. It makes it harder to focus on things unless they’re close-up or large, so I can’t see detail on things at a distance.
2. What is the most common misconception that you come up against with your disability?
The question “Won’t glasses help?” comes up a lot when I first meet people who aren’t familiar with my condition, or with visual impairment in general, Because my condition is relatively minor compared to some people, as I can see reasonably well and don’t use a cane or a guide dog when I’m out and about, people do wonder why I don’t just put spectacles on to fix it. And the answer’s simple – if it were that simple, I would indeed be wearing them. But glasses don’t help me to see the detail in things better, and I’ve tried various different lenses in the past. Hence I don’t wear them, because there’s no benefit.
I don’t usually mind answering the question, as it can be a good way of getting into a conversation about my eye condition and educating them about it a little. But even so, it doesn’t really need answering, if people just pause to think for a moment before asking it. And when it comes up on a regular basis, it can get a bit tiresome.
3. Which misconception annoys you the most?
That I can’t be as social or as communicative as other people – even though my eyes don’t actually stop me talking or having a good time. There can an assumption that because I have a disability, I’m not as interesting to talk to or invite to things, because they think I probably haven’t been able to do much. And sometimes it has surprised people that I have such a good sense of humour about my disability, instead expecting me to take offence to things easily.
Ultimately, it’s the assumption that having any kind of disability, even if it’s slightly wonky eyes as in my case, makes you less of a person, which simply isn’t true. I’m still me, I still like going out and about and enjoying myself, and I still love socialising and having a laugh with mates, as this year in London alone has proved. So I wish disabled people would be given more of an equal chance, rather than people just assuming what their lives must be like.
4. Do you do anything to combat these misconceptions?
Getting involved with the online blogging and Youtubing community has enabled me to spread awareness and educate people about being visually impaired and disabled, joining in with all the other wonderful bloggers out there. And it’s allowed me to showcase all the things I’ve been doing and enjoying – not to brag about them, but because I want to show that being disabled doesn’t stop you developing a social life and taking part in a wide variety of fun activities and events. I’ve never had so many opportunities before, so I’ve been keen to make the most of them as they’ve arisen this year. And it’s definitely opened a lot of people’s eyes in the process, which is great.
5. What more do you think can be done to tackle the misconceptions surrounding your disability?
It comes down to education and communication really, in all sorts of forms – such as the increasing numbers of disabled individuals sharing their lives in blogs and videos, campaigns by disability organisations, representation of disabled people in media like TV, film, books, etc, the education of children in schools about disability and interacting with disabled people, and so on.
It all helps to send out a positive message and show how disabled people are valuable and integral parts of society. And there is much better awareness than there used to be. There’s still a great deal of work to be done, and will need to be done for some time to come. But in recent years, especially thanks to the internet and social media connecting the world so closely, there is much more opportunity to educate and inform others, which we need to make the most of, and it allows us to support and connect with one another really well too.
And that’s it, I hope you enjoyed my answers. Thanks again to Holly for the nomination, and to Nicola for creating the tag. Everyone reading this is welcome to answer the questions, so feel free to do so if it’s a topic you can relate to. Thanks for reading!
Note: I’ve also shared brief thoughts on misconceptions in my guest post on UKS Mobility.